Press RoomPhoenix Art Museum announces frontline staff selected as guest curators for Guarding the Art
Phoenix Art Museum announces frontline staff selected as guest curators for Guarding the Art
Apr, 10, 2023
Exhibitions and Special Installations
Phoenix Art Museum announces frontline staff selected as guest curators for Guarding the Art
Susana Torruella Leval named mentoring curator for Phoenix iteration of exhibition created by the Baltimore Museum of Art
PHOENIX (April 10, 2023) – Phoenix Art Museum (PhxArt) announces the 15 guest curators and mentoring curator for the forthcoming Guarding the Art exhibition, the first national iteration of the groundbreaking exhibition created by the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), with generous support from the Pearlstone Family Fund, that invites frontline museum staff to create an exhibition and accompanying publication. Susana Torruella Leval, Director Emerita and former chief curator of El Museo del Barrio, will mentor team members from the Museum’s security, visitor services, facilities, retail-services, and event-rentals departments, as they work over the next year to curate an exhibition of artworks drawn from the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 objects. The presentation of Guarding the Art at Phoenix Art Museum is made possible through the generosity of Presenting Sponsor PNC Bank. The exhibition will be on view from January 20 through July 28, 2024.
“We are very excited to share the news of our Guarding the Art guest curators and look forward to welcoming veteran museum leader Susana Torruella Leval as the project’s mentoring curator,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “This exhibition and project is a significant step in bringing meaningful agency to all museum staff and underlining the importance that all voices matter when formalizing exhibitions and art selections on our walls. Susana will be a strong mentor with deep experience as a curator, educator, and leader in the museum field. I congratulate the 15 guest curators selected to lead this exhibition at PhxArt and look forward to experiencing the exhibition alongside our community when it opens next January.”
In December 2022, PhxArt and the BMA announced a partnership to develop and implement a new edition of the acclaimed Guarding the Art exhibition in Phoenix. Guarding the Art was conceived by longtime BMA Trustee Amy Elias to highlight the unique perspectives and reflections of security staff, informed by their many hours in the galleries, their interactions with visitors, and their personal interests and experiences.
“I am excited to see how Guarding the Art at Phoenix Art Museum will empower the institution’s frontline staff members to engage in the curatorial process,” said Elias. “These individuals each have unique expertise and perspectives, and I look forward to seeing how the exhibition they create reflects those interests and ideas and resonates with the Phoenix community.”
In February 2023, PhxArt invited members of its security, visitor services, facilities, event-rentals, and retail-services teams to apply for the role of Guarding the Art guest curators through an internal application process. The following 15 frontline staff members have been selected:
Teresa Andreno /// Retail Sales Lead Associate
Lindsay Caglio /// Security Officer
Devin Carreon /// Gallery Attendant
Catherine Corbett /// Visitor Services Associate
John Hatch /// Gallery Attendant
Rachel Hawthorne /// Event Specialist
Brielle Lee /// Gallery Attendant
Saul Millan /// Gallery Attendant
SJ Molina /// Senior Event Specialist
Martha Montour /// Gallery Attendant
Destiny Montoya /// Gallery Attendant
Emma Murphy /// Gallery Attendant
Myia Ramirez /// Gallery Attendant
Juan José Oliveros Saldaña /// Gallery Attendant
Savaughna Yohannes /// Gallery Attendant
Over the next year, these guest curators will collaborate with staff across the Museum’s preparation and registration, marketing and communications, education and engagement, and other teams to create an exhibition drawn from the Phoenix Art Museum Collection, along with didactic and interpretation materials. They will receive additional compensation for their work and will also produce an accompanying catalogue.
Throughout the process, guest curators will be mentored by Susana Torruella Leval, Director Emerita and former chief curator of El Museo del Barrio, the nation’s leading Puerto Rican, Latino, and Latin American art museum. Torruella Leval has worked as an art writer and curator of Puerto Rican, Latino, and Latin American contemporary art in New York City for more than 50 years. She has also served as chair of the Cultural Institutions Group and as vice president and president-elect of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She has taught in various capacities at The Cooper Union, New York University, Bard College, and Hunter College. Her volunteer leadership roles include serving on the Board of Trustees for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Academy in Rome, the Alliance for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Brooklyn Museum, among others. Since the mid-1980s, she has served as a panelist for different programs of the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Torruella Leval earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from Manhattanville College and a Master of Arts degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
“The 21st century brought sea changes regarding U.S. museums and their audiences,” said Torruella Leval. “Museums learned to care about who their audiences are, how they learn, and how best to serve them. Among the most creative models to emerge was one from the Baltimore Museum of Art, which Guarding the Art at Phoenix Art Museum will follow. The exhibition’s premise and process decentralize the curatorial role, sharing its roles and responsibilities beyond traditional curatorial staff circles. It infiltrates the ranks of those who in fact spend the most face time with the art once an exhibition opens: members from the Museum’s security, visitor services, facilities, retail-services, and event-rentals departments. It will bring the richness of diverse viewpoints and heterogeneous experiences and, hopefully, tip over some irrelevant models and stereotypes of what art exhibitions can do. I am greatly excited to meet, work with, and learn from Teresa, Lindsay, Devin, Catherine, John, Rachel, Brielle, Saul, SJ, Martha, Destiny, Emma, Myia, Juan José, and Savaughna. Let’s have some fun!”
The presentation of Guarding the Art at Phoenix Art Museum is made possible through the generosity of Presenting Sponsor PNC Bank.
“PNC has a legacy of investing in the arts, and we understand the economic, social, and civic impacts of a thriving arts and culture community,” said Cathleen Walker, PNC regional president of Phoenix and Northern Arizona. “With Guarding the Art, Phoenix Art Museum continues to engage our community through dynamic and innovative exhibitions. PNC is proud to help bring this opportunity to Phoenix.”
About the Exhibition Guarding the Art was founded by the Baltimore Museum of Art with generous support from the Pearlstone Family Fund. Its presentation at Phoenix Art Museum is made possible through the generosity of Presenting Sponsor PNC Bank. All exhibitions at Phoenix Art Museum are underwritten by the Phoenix Art Museum Exhibition Excellence Fund, founded by The Opatrny Family Foundation with additional major support provided by Joan Cremin.
Admission is free for Museum Members; youth aged 5 and younger; and Maricopa County Community Colleges students. Entrance into the exhibition is included in general admission for the public. Visitors may also enjoy reduced admission to the exhibition during voluntary-donation times on Wednesdays from 3 – 9 pm, made possible by SRP and City of Phoenix. For a full breakdown of general-admission prices and hours, see phxart.org/visit/.
To request interviews or high-resolution images, contact the Communications Office of Phoenix Art Museum at 602.257.2117 or email@example.com.
About Phoenix Art Museum Since 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has provided millions of guests with access to world-class art and experiences in an effort to ignite imaginations, create meaningful connections, and serve as a brave space for all people who wish to experience the transformative power of art. Located in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, the Museum is a vibrant destination for the visual arts and the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Each year, more than 300,000 guests engage with critically acclaimed national and international exhibitions and the Museum’s collection of more than 20,000 works of American and Western American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. The Museum also presents a comprehensive film program, live performances, and educational programs designed for visitors of all ages, along with vibrant photography exhibitions made possible through the Museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit phxart.org, or call 602.257.1880.
About Baltimore Museum of Art Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art – challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 95,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and include the world’s largest works public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. Generation admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art. artbma.org
About PNC Bank PNC Bank, National Association, is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit pnc.com.
About Pearlstone Family Fund The Pearlstone Family Fun was established in the 1980s by Jack Pearlstone and his son Richard to support the organizations and agencies that strengthen Jewish life in communities throughout the world. The Fund also support arts, culture, and community-based activities in the Baltimore metropolitan region.